A former chairman of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) in Katsina State, Ibrahim Dankaba, has told a high court of the state the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) forced him to write his statement presented before the court by the agency.
EFCC arraigned Mr Dankaba alongside a former governor of the state, Ibrahim Shema; former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Sani Makana; and former permanent secretary, Lawal Safana, before the court for alleged criminal breach of trust, abuse of office and conversion of public funds to the tune of over N11 billion during the governorship tenure of Mr Shema.
When the case was called on Monday, counsel to Mr Dankaba, Aliyu Ahmed, told the court the statement attributed to his client and tendered by EFCC as exhibit was obtained “involuntarily”.
He prayed the court to allow trial-within-trial to ascertain whether or not the statement was obtained under duress.
The counsel to the EFCC, O.I Uket, in his response, did not object to the application.
The EFCC, through its counsel, Mr Uket, had sought to tender the statement as evidence. But after being shown the statement, the defendant objected to it and told the court through Mr. Ahmed that he made it under duress.
A prosecution witness of the EFCC, Abubakar Buba, a senior detective superintendent, earlier told the court Mr Dankaba made the statement voluntarily on October 31, and November 16 and 17, 2016.
He also said the third defendant, Lawal Safana, who was interrogated on August 6 and 7 2015, was fully cautioned before making his statement.
The court earlier in a ruling admitted some documents which include bank statements as evidence in the matter.
During a previous sitting, the witness had told the court that one of the petitions which formed the basis of EFCC investigation of Mr Shema and the three officials who served in his administration, was written by fictitious names without traceable address.
EFCC’s Mr Buba in his testimony told the court the association that wrote the first petition, Katsina Initiative and Sustainable Development, was not registered or has a traceable address.
He said the petition dated August 12, 2014 was sent to the commission and all efforts by the team of EFCC investigators to trace the petitioners proved abortive.
The second petition, according to him, was dated June 23, 2015 and was written by one Ahmed Fatima, on behalf of Katsina State Ministry of Justice.
He said the petitioner gave the names of some officials of the state government to EFCC for investigation.
The trial judge, Maikaita Bako, adjourned the case to November 28 for the commencement of trial-within-trial.
One of the charges in the trial reads: “You Ibrahim Shehu Shema whilst being the Governor of Katsina, Sani Hamisu Makana whilst being Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Katsina State, Lawal Ahmad Safana whilst being the Permanent Secretary for Local government and Chieftaincy Affairs of Katsina State and Ibrahim Lawal Dankaba whilst being the Chairman Association of Local Government of Nigeria, Katsina State Chapter, between September 2012 and May 2015 at Katsina, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court were entrusted with certain property to wit; an aggregate sum of N4,463,600,000 (Four Billion, Four Hundred and Sixty Three Million, Six Hundred Thousand Nairn Only) committed a criminal breach of trust in respect of the said sum by transferring it from Katsina State Joint Local Government Account domiciled at Access Bank , Katsina Branch to the account of ALGON domiciled at Union Bank, Katsina Branch and subsequently withdrew same and dishonesty convert it to your personal use (under various guises including funding security intervention fund to all the 34 local governments in Katsina State and falsely described in several payment vouchers and memos) and thereby committed and offence contrary to section 311 and punishable under section 312 of Penal Code Cape 96 Laws of Katsina State, 1991.”